Thinking Outside, a SPOTLIGHT exhibition of woodcut prints by Jean Gumpper, opens September 10 at Groveland Gallery. Over the past 25 years, Gumpper’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is widely recognized as one of the finest reduction woodcut artists in the United Sates. Her prints are part of numerous private and public collections across the U.S. and throughout Europe, Canada, and Asia. Gumpper is a Professor and Mellon Artist in Residence in the art department at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
Gumpper’s prints are created through a reduction woodcut process. Using this technique, the image is printed from a board of birch plywood that has been carved and inked numerous times. The image is first drawn out on the wood. Then the areas meant to remain the color of the paper are cut away. Paper is placed on the block, both are run through a press with pressure and the ink is transferred to the paper. The print develops in layers. After all of the pieces of paper in the edition are printed with the first color, the block is cleaned off and everything meant to be the color just printed is cut away. The second color is then rolled out and printed onto the paper. The process of cutting and printing is repeated, sometimes up to 17 times, until the print is complete.
In all her work, Gumpper’s complex images focus on specific elements in the landscape creating compositions that often omit the context of land or a horizon line. Such an approach allows her expressive, multi-layered landscapes to hover between realism and abstraction. The artist explains:
“My prints draw inspiration from the lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds, seeps and springs I find both far away and near my home. To me, these images become rich in meaning as they suggest resilience, renewal, beauty, and new life in a time of constant change. Walking, hiking, and looking are the beginnings of my prints. This contemplative, restorative practice is an intimate and direct approach to visualizing nature. I’m intrigued with the rhythms of mark making and the possibilities of color, texture, and movement. I hope to capture the sense of being in the landscape, hearing the sounds, feeling the air. I work within a structure, the tradition of woodcut, which allows me to freely explore the layers and shifts within it. The limitations of process lead to unexpected paths.”